compulsory reading, intellectual property rights, media, web 2.0

Blogs are really different.

To those who haven’t yet had the opportunity to read about Loic LeMeur’s efforts in bringing together the loose ends of the Germanic blogosphere, I say – do so.

When I went to meet him and some other bloggers I had never seen or even heard of before, I was not too sure what to expect beyond a pint of wheat beer. But what developed were indeed very intristing debates about the future -as we develop it.

No doubt about it, blogs, or personal publishing, is quickly changing some parts of the communicational transactional infrastructure of the societies we live in. But what exactly is going to happen – no one has really figured that out yet.

It is great to be among people who are fascinated by what they do, people who firmly believe that they are true revolutionaries, tearing down the old walls of informational constraints and top-down control. Ideas really are a powerful motivator.

Yet just like love can make us blind with regard to things we do not want to see or know about our loved ones, enthusiasm tends to blind us with respect to the nasty little details. I am mentioning the German technological adventure “Toll Collect” only for the fun of it.

On Monday, Loic LeMeur was asked about the future of printed newspapers and magazines by one of the attending non-bloggers. His reaction could not have been faster – it’s dead, he said, and I am sure, he firmly believes this.

However, I am not so certain about the future of printed paper. The medium has certain qualities that are not yet easily replicated by electronic media – most doctors’ waiting rooms still feature papers and not free W-Lan. And while this may even change sooner than I imagine, there will a market for printed information and commentary, and if only because the higher cost will serve as a signalling mechanism for quality – in whichever changed format this may be the case – the “RSS-Times -once a week, the stuff that is actually worth reading”

Ross Mayfield apparently also starts to think that blogs are different, and therefore a medium with a very specific set of core competences: Broad coverage, he writes today, is not one of them. He’s (mostly) right – coverage of important events involved an infrastructure and professionalism that (most) blogs simply cannot and do not possess.

Things are different in situations, where no infrastructure is present. I remember the advantages of neighbourhood bloggers over the established media last year when half of California burnt down. But when it comes to attending press-conferences and filtering official information like, say, following the Madrid attacks, it becomes obvious that journalists and bloggers are still operating in largely distinct, though complimentary market segments.

Op-Ed journalists should be far more afraid of all the opinion that is now out there.